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Atari got its start as a video game company in 1972 when Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney formed it to commercialize the "industry" that didn't quite exist yet. After an unsuccessful launch of "Computer Space", Bushnell instructed engineer Al Alcorn to create something simpler to "test" some theories. Pong was the result and it changed the world forever.
In 1976, Atari was sold to Warner and Bushnell ended up leaving in 1979. By then, the Atari 2600 was a huge hit and Atari had also launched its 8-bit computer line which includes the Atari 800 and 400 and later the spinoffs, the 600XL, 800XL and more.
In 1984, Atari was purchased by Jack Tramiel (the founder of Commodore, its biggest competitor in the "computer space" (notice the double irony)) and using the profits from the still selling 8-bit computer launched the Atari ST line.
In 1996 the company that had made computers was merged with JTS Corp. and eventually the games division was picked up in 1998 by Hasbro. The name continues today in the gaming space under the ownership of Infogrames.